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Postgame Hat Trick: Jets 2, Wild 1

Ehlers' third-period goal the difference as Minnesota drops to 2-2 on current homestand

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 2-1 loss against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday night:

1. Minnesota struggled to find much of anything offensively until the third period in a second one-goal loss to its division rivals in the past two weeks.

Unlike the game at Bell MTS Place on Oct. 20, where offensive chances were being handed out like candy on Halloween, Tuesday's game had far fewer grade-A chances for both teams. 

Winnipeg had just 19 shots on goal in the game while Minnesota had 17 through two periods before being awoken by Luke Kunin's goal, which got the home team on the board with 14:24 to play in regulation.

"We didn't play to our strengths, we didn't play to our game plan. I thought it was a little dead out there," Kunin said of the team's effort through 40 minutes. "Too many turnovers and just not doing the right things to win hockey games. That's gonna cost you in this League and we've gotta be better."

Once Kunin got the Wild on the board, thanks to a pretty no-look pass from Nino Niederreiter in the right corner, Minnesota pushed relentlessly over the final minutes of the game, but couldn't find a way to stuff the puck past Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who finished with 28 saves.

Video: WPG@MIN: Kunin lasers home Niederreiter's feed

Minnesota also had 22 shots blocked and 24 shots that missed the net entirely.

"In the third period, we had a ton of looks and we didn't hit the net," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "If you can't hit the net, you're not going to score. Our whole goal was to hit the net and crash the net, and I think when we do that, we're a pretty good team and we score a lot of goals when we do that.

"But when you're trying to be cute and just pick very little corners or little spots on the ice, it doesn't work for you. And unfortunately, when you're not scoring as an individual and you want to score, you tend to be that cute because you want to make the perfect shot rather than sit back and say 'I'm just gonna get seven shots on net, and hopefully, one of them's going to go in at some point.'"

2. Speaking of Niederreiter, he returned to action after missing the past six games because of a sprained ankle. 

It didn't take him long to hit the scoresheet either, taking an elbowing penalty in the second period before dishing out a beauty of an assist on Kunin's third-period goal. 

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame against Jets

"I thought he was rusty until he got the assist in the third period then he started to play, started to do what he can do, skate, get involved, all of those things," Boudreau said. 

The assist was Niederreiter's first point of the season.

3. Making his third start of the season, Alex Stalock was again solid between the pipes.

Unfortunately for him and the Wild, he simply didn't have the offensive support to get the win. Stalock, like he did his last time out in Calgary, helped Minnesota weather an early storm, as Winnipeg racked up seven shots on goal before the Wild had one.

Kyle Connor got Winnipeg on the board first at 7:10 of the first, but Stalock stopped the other 10 shots he faced in the opening frame. 

Video: WPG@MIN: Stalock narrowly denies Wheeler's shot

"I felt pretty bad because he was good again. I think I mentioned it in between periods, the first and second periods. But, I mean, it's not fair to him," Boudreau said. "We were lucky to be in the position we were in in the last 10 minutes of the game. They had two breakaways, maybe three, and it could've been three- or four-nothing going into the third period."

Stalock finished with 17 saves, seeing just eight shots over the final 40 minutes, including two in the third. One of those was the game-winning goal by Nikolaj Ehlers, who took advantage of a turnover at the Wild's defensive blue line and skated alone, beating Stalock with a nifty move.

Video: Locker Room postgame against Jets

"As soon as you see that play develop, I kind of made up in my mind that I was going to come out and challenge this guy," Stalock said. "Obviously the wrong play. But I kind of made up my mind, said I was going and turns out it didn't work and they ended up getting the winner."


Loose Pucks

• Tyler Myers earned the lone assist in the game for Winnipeg.

Eric Staal had the second assist on Kunin's third-period goal.

• Kunin's goal was his second in the NHL and first even-strength marker.

• Minnesota's season-long six-game homestand continues on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.

• Attendance: 18,814


He Said It

"We made a good play to escape out of the corner and started heading up the ice, and I saw [Mikael Granlund] cutting behind, and I just put it too soft. I've got to put that harder back there so he can skate onto that and beat that guy. That was my fault." -- Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on the turnover that led to the Jets' winning goal


They Said It

"We kind of expected it. That's a good team over there and we knew they were going to push right to the end. They got that one and you could just kind of tell they were carrying some momentum. The crowd got into it. That's the fun of the game; battling that out and I think that shows a lot of character in here." -- Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on Minnesota's late push


Three Stars

* Connor Hellebuyck

** Nikolaj Ehlers

*** Luke Kunin

Video: MIN Recap: Kunin nets lone goal in 2-1 loss to Jets

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